Backwoodz Studioz engineer Willie Inexperienced has mentioned he needs folks to have a “bodily response” once they take heed to one of many label’s data. Final 12 months, Inexperienced and Armand Hammer’s Elucid assembled a crew of gamers for a session on the Greenhouse in Gowanus, Brooklyn, with the thought of jamming to beats and following the place it led them. It was the primary time that Shabaka Hutchings (flute), Adi Myerson (bass), Max Heath (synthesizer), and Hisham Bharoocha (drums) had met; Elucid says that watching their early fumblings give technique to grooves with religious heft was foundational to the creation of We Purchase Diabetic Take a look at Strips, Armand Hammer’s sixth album. By Inexperienced’s personal rubric, the album is a hit—it could possibly really feel like being tugged by dozens of various fingers but nonetheless being pulled ahead.
That natural jam session—by which relative strangers discovered the funk of their very first assembly—mirrors the way in which that Elucid and his accomplice within the duo Armand Hammer, Backwoodz founder billy woods, have collected a slew of eccentric personalities and given them a typical function. woods has known as Elucid Backwoodz’s “secret weapon” as an A&R, and he is likely to be proper; it’s exhausting to think about anybody else making a report like this sound coherent. woods and producer Kenny Segal’s 2023 album Maps was a vividly evocative tour diary populated by colourful characters, however when the 2 rappers work collectively, Elucid lifts woods into the ether.
Armand Hammer’s music may be indecipherable by design, with profundity typically camouflaged by abstraction. On We Purchase Diabetic Take a look at Strips, they ponder their inevitable finish, typically graphically (“Males pregnant with dying, frightened on the quickening/It totters on unsteady legs, boy you invited to the christening,” woods raps), but handle to stave off hopelessness. The 2 proceed to course of life’s indignities with absurdist humor and a caustic wit, telling disjointed tales by means of intersecting narratives that solely come into focus when seen as an entire.
Probably the most unconventional of their visitor stars is, after all, JPEGMAFIA, the Baltimore rapper and producer recognized for his abrasive productions and persona. JPEGMAFIA’s work accounts for just a little greater than 1 / 4 of the album, however his glitchy, warped aesthetic bookends the tracklist and helps outline the temper. He opens the album with a hypnotic synth loop and a vocal pattern stuttering within the background; there’s no bass, only a single snare crack punctuated by a landline dial tone. He’ll bury a delicate melody beneath cacophonous yelling, then change the beat mid-song to weave online game SFX into boom-bap drums and drench the entire thing in reverb (“When It Doesn’t Begin With a Kiss”). Even within the sluggish and quiet moments, chaos lurks in his productions—an interrupted moan, a hair-raising scrape—and it’s fascinating to observe woods and Elucid adapt their flows to satisfy the problem.
We Purchase Diabetic Take a look at Strips is as a lot a Backwoodz Studioz showcase as an Armand Hammer album. During the last decade or so, Backwoodz has steadily established itself as a paragon of the New York underground, an instance of how a neighborhood and a enterprise can feed off each other. You possibly can see the fairness as plain as their publishing splits. Backwoodz’s roster is all around the LP—visitor verses from Curly Castro and Moor Mom; manufacturing from Metal Tipped Dove, Kenny Segal, Jeff Markey, and Willie Inexperienced—leading to an album that gels regardless of its idiosyncrasies. It’s becoming that there’s an El-P manufacturing credit score, as his now-defunct indie label Definitive Jux was to the New York underground within the ’90s as Backwoodz is right this moment: a unfastened collective of left-of-center artists that coalesced round artistic freedom fairly than a specific sound, emphasizing transparency in enterprise, if not at all times their artwork.